Abstract: Examining the Link between Social Support, Racial Discrimination, and Perceptions of Future College-Going in Black and Latino Youth (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Examining the Link between Social Support, Racial Discrimination, and Perceptions of Future College-Going in Black and Latino Youth

Friday, January 13, 2023
Alhambra, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Adrian Gale, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Background. Researchers, parents, and concerned stakeholders have long lamented the waste of human potential caused when academically promising youth of color do not attend college. Racial discrimination is a risk factor for youth of color, as it may negatively impact youth’s current and future educational attainment. In response to college access issues among racial minority youth, several universities, municipalities, and non-profit organizations established pre-college programs. However, it is unclear whether the support provided by pre-college programs lessens the harmful effects of racial discrimination.

Purpose. The present study investigates whether social support from a university-led pre-college program buffers the harmful effects of racial discrimination on adolescents’ beliefs about whether they will go to college. In particular, I examined the impact of racial in-school racial discrimination from teachers and peers as well as daily racial hassles (a general measure of racial discrimination).

Methods. Data for this study were taken from a sample of participants from a pre-college program in a large state in the eastern United States (N = 316), Mage = 14.47, SD = 1.402, and 66.8% female. The sample consisted of American Indian/Alaska Native (2%), Asian (9%), Black/African American (26%), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (1%), White (including Middle Eastern) (11%), Latino/Hispanic (47%), and Other Race/Ethnicity (4%). Given the income requirements for the pre-college program, the entire sample consists of adolescents from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Youth reported on racial discrimination that they experienced from teachers (a=.790), racial discrimination that they experienced from peers (a=.741), experiences of racial discrimination in their daily lives (a=.941), beliefs about whether they will go to college in the future (a = .865), and the climate (social support) in the pre-college program (a = .827).

Results. Regression analyses were used to examine whether social support was a buffer against the negative effects of racial discrimination on perceptions of future college-going. The regression model was significant F (5,191) = 4.218, p< .01, R2 = .0994. The interaction between social support and daily racial hassles was significant (β = -.182, p<.01). Post hoc analyses revealed that for youth who perceived lower levels of program support, there was a positive association between racial hassles and perceptions of future college-going. No other interactions were significant.

Discussion. The current results suggest that racial discrimination from teachers, peers, and their daily lives negatively impacted youths’ perceptions of future college-going. However, the climate of the pre-college program (social support) was only a buffer against the effects of daily racial hassles. These findings contribute to our understanding of the harmful effects of racial discrimination on youth of color and possible protective factors. These findings also have implications for policy and practice regarding pre-college programs.